Movie poster artist Frank McCarthy was a legend in his field. Until his death in 2002, McCarthy had created, or collaborated on creating, some of the most iconic movie poster art of all time. The web site Dangerous Minds pays tribute to McCarthy's creations with a mind-boggling gallery of images from such films as "Thunderball", "Khartoum", "The Dirty Dozen", "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", "Hatari!", "The Great Escape" and many others.
American politics have always been contentious. When people pine away for the good old days of political civility, well...they just never existed. Going back to the early days of the republic, candidates routinely lied about each other and passed around unfounded scandalous rumors. Even "Honest Abe" Lincoln secured the Republican presidential nomination by having his minions literally bribe people to pose as delegates and pack the convention hall. One thing is for certain, however: the country is seeing its most vibrant protest movements since the late 1960s, when the toxic mix of Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights and other emotional issues seemingly had everyone at each other's throats. In a New York Times article, writer David Bianculli recalls how the Smothers Brothers became unlike vessels of the counterculture movement. The clean cut comedy duo was hired by CBS to provide gentle family humor (Tom and Dick Smother's shtick always revolved around sibling rivalry.) What CBS didn't expect was political satire the likes of which the network never imagined. Suddenly younger people had a TV show that was geared for them and the Smother Brothers set off national debates in barber shops, diners and the family dinner table. CBS didn't like it one bit. The network was the home of such popular, non-threatening fare as "The Andy Griffith Show", "Green Acres", "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction". Now, CBS magnate William Paley was getting complaints from top politicians. That set in motion a delicate situation: CBS would routinely try to censor segments of the show, but by doing so they were undermining the very audience that had made it a hit. Compromises were made but the politicos were not satisfied when seeing guests such as Pete Seeger and George Harrison intermingled with safe, traditional stars such as Jack Benny. (Seeger sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy", a thinly-veiled protest song about the Vietnam War that the network tried to cut.)
Ultimately, CBS caved and cancelled the show in its fourth season, using a bogus excuse that resulted in the Smothers Brothers getting a $900,000 payout- big money back in the day. Although the brothers skewed to the political left, one of their first targets had been Democratic President Johnson, who was constantly attacked for his Vietnam policy. His successor, Republican President Richard Nixon fared even worse. Johnson had complained personally to William Paley but after leaving office, made peace with the brothers by acknowledging that satire was an essential part of American politics. As for Nixon, it was learned later that he had siphoned funds from one of his presidential war chests to pay for a private investigator to find dirt on the Smothers Brothers. He never succeeded and Nixon would resign a few years later in the most notorious political scandal of the 20th century. Perhaps the brothers' ability to make both Democrats and Republicans feel uncomfortable was their greatest talent. Click here to read and view clips.
For author William Peter Blatty's interview in Cinema Retro, see issue #19 in our back issues section.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
With the recent passing of "Exorcist" author William Peter Blatty, the Washington Post takes a photographic journey back to the origins of the story that inspired Blatty to write the book. In 1949 the Catholic church issued a rare consent order to allow an exorcism to be performed on a young boy who priests feared had been possessed by a demon. Doctors and psychiatrists have long speculated that the cause of the boy's affliction was rooted in natural medical explanations but the priests reported that they witnessed events that could not have been caused by any earthly phenomenon. The priests involved remained made few public comments after the exorcism, though there are some sketchy diary entries that shed a bit of light on the proceedings. The boy who was the center of the case is still alive and is now 78 years old but has never commented publicly on his ordeal or his memories of it, if any. Unless and until he does, there will always be debate about what actually occurred in an ordinary house occupied by an ordinary family who would inspire one of the most extraordinary novels and films of the 20th century. Click here to view.
Joe Dante's "Trailers From Hell" site presents director/producer Alan Spencer's spot-on analysis of Robert Wise's 1966 epic "The Sand Pebbles" starring Steve McQueen in his only Oscar-nominated performance. For our money, it's one of the great films of its era even if its depressing as hell, as some very bad things happen to some very good characters.
By 1965 Sean Connery was already growing weary of the James Bond phenomenon. The money was great but he never sought to be an international idol and sex symbol and never warmed to the experience of having the press and fans follow him about wherever he went. He also feared that he would be typecast as Bond and thus sought roles in films far removed from the image of 007. His first two attempts, "Woman of Straw" and Hitchcock's "Marnie" were critical and boxoffice failures. Connery had high hopes for his next non-Bond film, "The Hill", which marked the first of several movies he would collaborate with director Sidney Lumet on. A grim, brutal but superb movie, "The Hill" was hailed at the Cannes Film Festival and received great notices. Although the movie never clicked with mainstream audiences who eagerly awaited Connery's next Bond film, "Thunderball", the 1965 production has grown in stature over the decades. Not only does it feature Connery's first brilliant cinematic performance but he is matched by an equally brilliant supporting cast: Harry Andrews, Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear and Michael Redgrave. This original featurette shows the movie's enthusiastic reception at Cannes and the grueling challenges of filming it in the Spanish desert.
Regular readers know that every Christmas, Cinema Retro pays homage to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the Citizen Kane of all movies relating to Santa Claus battling creatures from other planets. The 1964 $20,000 wonder has been a cinematic legend among bad movie lovers. We're happy to present the entire film for your (guilty) viewing pleasure.
Wishing our readers worldwide a happy and healthy holiday season!
The web site "1966: My Favorite Year" unearthed this gem of a find: a children's record album released that year that featured Yogi Bear, the Three Stooges and a James Bond parody. Talk about something for everyone! Best of all, the site links to the entire album in audio format on YouTube. Click here to read and listen.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis provides an excellent article about W.C. Fields' drinking habits on and off film sets- and how the habit not only enhanced his career but played a role in ending Prohibition.
Film historian Jonathan Froes has uploaded this trailer for the 1939 Universal monsters classic "Son of Frankenstein". According to Indiewire, this particular trailer was thought to be lost due to the fact that it shot on nitrate film. That film stock proved to be highly flammable, causing studios to ends its use and destroy countless prints of feature films and trailers. Indiewire says that horror film enthusiasts consider this to be a real find because it contains alternate takes and snippets of scenes not included in the final cut of the film, which featured a stellar cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. For more click here
Here's a rarity. An original rare CBS promotional film highlighting the forthcoming TV premiere of "Hogan's Heroes" a half century ago. You'll note the film also includes cameos by Fred MacMurray of "My Three Sons" and Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island". You'll also notice that the early version of the opening credits is much longer than the final version for broadcast and that there are some cast discrepancies as well.
The following news items were reported in Film Daily during the week of October 21, 1963
Stephen Boyd in "The Fall of the Roman Empire"
Paul Lazarus Jr., executive vice president of Samuel Bronston Productions, is lining up tours to the Bronston Studio in Spain for exhibitors who have expressed interest in (and booking) Fall of the Roman Empire. The trips, on which theater men will be on their own, especially for transportation, are expected to start shortly after mid-November.
Steve McQueen in "the Great Escape" (Like we really had to tell you!)
United Artists' The Great Escape rolled up $205,915 in the second week of its Golden Showcase run at 21 theaters in the greater New York area.
Arthur Kennedy, Victory Jory, Sal Mineo, George O'Brien, and Dolores Del Rio have been signed for key roles in Cheyenne Autumn Warner Bros. film which John Ford is directing.
Britain's Shirley Eaton will fill the sole femme part in MGM's Rhino in production in South Africa.
Executive Council of British Film Producers Association will support the move by the Association of Independent Cinemas to reduce the admittance of teenagers to "A" pictures from 16 to 14. Films classified as "A" by the censor are forbidden to children under 16 unless accompanied by an adult. Films tagged "X" are forbidden to those 16 and under while "U" films are for the entire family.
How the West Was Won has passed the 500,000 admission mark at the Warner Hollywood Cinerama Theatre, where the MGM production has grossed more than $1,000,000 since its opening October 21...Ticket orders are being taken into December and the engagement will continue indefinitely.
Swedish poster for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Stanley Kramer and many of the stars of his It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World will appear on The Jerry Lewis Show, ABC-TV
November 2, the night before the UA Cinerama comedy has its
international press preview at The New Cinerama Theatre in Hollywood.
If you wonder why we at Cinema Retro consider the 1960s the true "Golden Age" of movie making, just take a gander at this page from a Canadian newspaper in 1966 and consider the diverse number of popular films that were showing during the same week: Dean Martin as Matt Helm in "The Silencers", James Coburn as "Our Man Flint", Hayley Mills and Rosalind Russell in "The Trouble With Angels", "The Sound of Music", a reissue of "A Hard Day's Night", "Carry on Cleo", "McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force" and reissues of Vincent Price in "Tomb of Ligeia" and Richard Kiel in "Eegah". We're not making the case that these were all classics but we will make the case that they were all fine entertainment- which is why films such as these live on in the pages of Cinema Retro magazine.
We've long extolled the virtues of Sidney Lumet's 1964 screen adaptation of the Cold War Doomsday novel "Fail-Safe", which centers on an accidental order to launch a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. The film was cursed on any number of levels, however. Lumet had a very small budget to work with and the film was delayed from release by Stanley Kubrick, who feared that it would tarnish his own Doomsday classic "Dr. Strangelove" if it were released first. Ultimately, Kubrick pressured Columbia, the studio behind "Strangelove", to buy the distribution rights to "Fail-Safe" and keep it on a shelf until "Strangelove" was out of theaters. The result was disappointing box-office returns for Lumet's masterful achievement, but the film has grown in popularity over the years. Director Joe Dante is also a fan of the film and provides some interesting facts about its production as a commentary over the movie's original trailer. It all appears on Dante's "Trailers From Hell" web site, along with hundreds of other trailers with commentaries. Click here to view.
In 1976 Frank Sinatra hosted a CBS television special: "An All-Star Party for John Wayne". Among the guests was Charles Bronson, a man who made few public appearances and made even fewer speeches. Here he pays sentimental tribute to Wayne, who surprisingly he had never met until that evening.
Director John Badham dissects the original trailer for John Ford's "Stagecoach" starring John Wayne in his star-making role. Here is his analysis from Joe Dante's "Trailers from Hell" web site. By all means, check out hundreds of other classic trailers reviewed by filmmakers and historians by clicking here.
With the sad news about the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Cinema Retro presents the film trailer for "Hellcats of the Navy", the 1957 WWII adventure that marked the only time that Mrs. Reagan (then still known as Nancy Davis) appeared on screen with her husband and future president Ronald Reagan.
Here's a blog that has a unique perspective on Beatlemania: it is dedicated entirely to the ladies in the lives of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr from their early days as the Fab Four through the present. The site has little in the way of text but does provide a Yellow Submarine-sized load of great photos, many of which are new to us.
Self-portrait of George Harrison and his first wife Pattie in their garden at their home in Surrey.
The blog reminds us that behind every great Beatle was a Beatlette. Click here to view site.
One of the most underrated epics of all time, the 1962 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" was reviewed largely on the basis of its troubled production history and massive budget over-runs. Star Marlon Brando took much of the blame, though he always denied that had been the cause of the financial debacle that ensued at MGM when the studio suffered massive losses after the film's release. As with another major money-loser of the era, "Cleopatra", many people dismiss this remake of the original 1935 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" as some kind of artistic debacle. In fact many retro movie buffs regard it as superior to the first version. If one can judge the film on its own merits, not its financial legacy, they will find Brando and co-star giving brilliant performances as Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh. An inspired supporting cast, stunning production values and a great musical score all contribute to making this one of the great epic films of its day. This original trailer gives you a sample. - Lee Pfeiffer
CLICK HERE TO ORDER BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FROM AMAZON THAT INCLUDES RARE PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE THAT WERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE FILM'S ORIGINAL RELEASE.
Here is the original 1968 behind the scenes production featurette for Steve McQueen's "Bullitt". The short is narrated by McQueen himself and emphasizes his commitment to ensuring that the crime thriller reflected real life at all times. The featurette also shows some alternate angles and behind the scenes footage of co-stars Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset as well as an extensive look at the staging of the classic car chase in San Francisco.
There was a time in American politics when people could disagree without detesting each other. Epitomizing a prime example of inter-American detente in the 1960s was the relationship between arch conservative John Wayne and arch liberal Kirk Douglas. The two men disagreed on almost every major political issue. Wayne had backed the McCarthy era blacklist and Douglas was notable in helping end it a decade later. When the two iconic actors agreed to co-star in Otto Preminger's 1965 WWII epic "In Harm's Way", there were predictions of fireworks on the set as both Wayne and Douglas could display volatile tempers. Instead Duke and Douglas got along personally like a house on fire. Wayne's Batjac Productions even backed Douglas' 1966 big budget production of "Cast a Giant Shadow" about the founding of Israel. The two men teamed for the third (and regrettably final) time in 1967 for "The War Wagon", a marvelously witty and highly entertaining Western that showcased both actors at their best. Enjoy this original theatrical trailer.
Both John Wayne and Lee Marvin vied for Elizabeth Allen's attentions in John Ford's 1963 comedy "Donovan's Reef".
Elizabeth Allen never became a super star but the lovely and talented actress graced both movie and TV screens with her fine performances. She also appeared in some acclaimed stage productions as well. Among Elizabeth's film credits are "Donovan's Reef", "Diamond Head", "Cheyenne Autumn" and "The Carey Treatment".
Her TV work included "Bracken's World", "Another World", "Guiding Light", "CPO Sharkey", "The Fugitive" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." Ms. Allen passed away in 2006 at age 77. Writer Scott Rollins presents an in-depth tribute to her on his blog. Click here to read.
Jim Sherlock, one of Australia's most respected film historians, provided us with this sampling of what was showing in Oz on one day in 1966. Sort of boggles the mind, doesn't it? Steve McQueen in Nevada Smith, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film One of Our Spies is Missing, Julie Christie in Darling, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in Marriage Italian Style and Doris Day and Rod Taylor in The Glass Bottom Boat (note that in Australia it had the more provocative title The Spy in the Lace Panties!). Those really were the days....
Alfred Hitchcock loathed having to abide by the Puritanical "Hayes Code" that, in effect, acted as a de facto censorship board for American films. Hitch devised numerous clever ways to introduce adult sexual situations into his films in a manner that made it difficult, if not impossible, for the prudes to order scenes trimmed or deleted. Hitch lost a few battles (ironically one them based on a non-sex scene involving the flushing of a toilet!) but generally managed to get one over on the would-be censors. Click here for an article from The Richest web site that examines some his tactics for including sex in his movies (although the article fails to examine "Marnie", perhaps the most sexually driven of all Hitchcock's films.)
It's hard to believe that even in the contentious late 1960s, politics were probably more civil than they are today. If you want proof, check out this 1967 sit-down from TV in which uber-liberal Woody Allen chats with William F. Buckley Jr. , the father of the modern conservative movement in America. It's interesting to hear the names of prominent people who were grist for the mill of satire during this period: President Johnson, presidential aspirant Bobby Kennedy, President Charles De Gaulle all come in for some pointed barbs. Allen, who had not yet entered a period in his life in which he all but withdrew from public appearances, is extremely witty but Buckley holds his own against the comedy legend-in-the-making. The segment recalls a time in which people could disagree without being disagreeable. If only our politicians could make the same claim today.
Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and incomprehensible, the final words of legendary actors and actresses provide some fascinating and thought-provoking moments. Among those cited here: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Laurence Olivier, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe and Groucho Marx. Click here to read.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FEATURES FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
Don't you miss those wonderful old comic book tie-ins to major motion pictures? We unearthed this one in the seemingly bottomless vaults of the Cinema Retro archive. It was a tie in from Dell Comics for director John Sturges' 1965, big budget misfire The Hallelujah Trail that managed to squander the talents of Burt Lancaster, Lee Remick, Jim Hutton and many other popular actors. However, we still have a soft spot for the comic book, which is far more entertaining than the padded, seemingly endless film upon which it is based!
The following press release was published in May, 1964
"Frank Sinatra will star in Von Ryan's Express at 20th Century Fox. Based on David Westheimer's bestseller about mass escapes from Italian prison camps during WWII, the drama will be produced by Saul David with Mark Robson directing. It is scheduled to start in mid-summer with possible location in Italy."
(Note: the press release was inaccurate in the sense that the film did not deal with massive "escapes" from multiple prison camps. Rather, it dealt with only one escape from one camp. However we suppose it's a bit too late to demand that the press writer be fired.)
Burt Lancaster and Susan Clark in Valdez is Coming - a film shot and released in 1971 after postponements for Lancaster to star in Airport.
The following news items were in The Hollywood Reporter on November 4, 1968:
Cloris Leachman and Henry Jones have been cast in 20th Century Fox's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Neal Hefti has been signed by Howard W. Koch to to arrange and conduct Paramount's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
You can call Elizabeth Taylor "Myra" for sure unless an unexpected snag develops in the current agreeable negotiations we're not supposed to know anything about...Elizabeth is now Dick Zanuck's number one choice to prove she can play both sexes as his Myra Breckenridge and she is in verbal agreement- no doubt for her usual million bucks plus a piece of the action. (Cinema Retro notes that Raquel Welch ended up playing Myra in the distastrous screen version of the bestseller. Film critic Rex Reed played Myra in her male persona)
In order to allow Burt Lancaster to star in Ross Hunter's Airport at Universal, producer Ira Steiner postoned start of United Artists' Valdez is Coming. Lancaster checks in with writer-director George Seaton on Airport as soon as he winds MGM's The Gypsy Moths.
Now that Dean Martin and Burt Lancaster have been signed for Airport, scribbled on Ross Hunter's memo pad are Natalie Wood, Patricia Neal and Helen Hayes. (Cinema Retro notes that only Hayes was in the film.)
Sammy Davis and Peter Lawford won't be going back to London for their Salt and Pepper sequel. Las Vegas will be the place. (Cinema Retro notes that the sequel, One More Time, directed by Jerry Lewis, was indeed filmed in England.)
Carlo Ponti's Zabriskie Point issued a call for 3000 extras in Las Vegas last week and you should have seen the line that formed! Hear they'll be shooting in Death Valley.
Issue #29 of Cinema Retro commemorated the locations seen in The Great Escape.
Cinema Retro contributor Don Whistance has an amazing blog for anyone who is a fan of the classic 1963 WWII film "The Great Escape". His site painstakingly details the German shooting locations of the film and provides then and now photos as well as a wealth of information and interviews about the film. Click here to check it out.
For those of us who lived through the era when AIDS first reared its head with devastating impact on the world, it's hard to believe that 30 years has transpired since Rock Hudson became the first celebrity casualty of the disease. In those days, ignorance about AIDS brought about panic and prejudices. Hudson, however, was a beloved and iconic screen legend and his death went a long way to humanizing victims of AIDS. If this beloved idol of millions could fall victim to this scourge, then perhaps it wasn't just people thought to engage in deviant lifestyles and behaviors. Rock Hudson never wanted to be the face of the Gay Rights Movement. He became a star during an era in which even the hint of being homosexual would have been the death knell on his career. However, one would like to think that his untimely death at age 59 resulted in progress toward a more compassionate view regarding AIDS and HIV victims. For more on Hudson's death click here.
You may think that the American drive-in movie theater has gone the way of the do-do bird and The Knack. However, there are still a surprising number of drive-ins operating, primarily in rural area where the price of real estate isn't so prohibitively expensive. One of the drive-ins of interest to Cinema Retro readers is the Mahoning Drive-in located in Leighton, PA, not too far from the New Jersey border. What makes the theater unique is the owner's quest to concentrate solely on classic and cult films shown in 35mm. You can forget seeing the latest Adam Sandler flick here. This is for lovers of old sci-fi and horror films. The theater has been working with Exhumed Films to continually find sources for good 35mm prints in order to keep retro film festivals alive. For more on the theater and its history, click here.
(If you know of a theater that specializes in retro-based film programming, you can send the details to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure that there is a current web page the article can link to.)
Classic movie posters, once regarded as the domain of eccentric collectors, are finally being taken seriously in financial circles because of their often staggering rate of return on investment. In an article for Bloomberg News, it's pointed out that some of the rarer posters appreciate at a far greater pace than many conventional investments. The irony, of course, is that for decades such posters were routinely tossed out after a movie was exhibited. Most had to be returned to National Screen Service, the company that leased the promotional materials to theaters. After a period of years, NSS destroyed older posters, photos and lobby cards, which were never officially available for sale to the public. However, die hard collectors found niche shops that catered to their needs. In the beginning, collectors wanted the posters because of their artistic merit but over the decades, they came to be regarded as a solid financial investment. Click here for more.
We've all seen Halloween, Friday the
13th, and Hellraiser. But for true horror aficionados, much of the
charm of the genre lies in low budget, low production value, and extreme,
outrageous effects and plots. Read on to learn more about five of the forgotten
horror films of
the 80’s that, while an exercise in bad taste, will provide the horror fan with
a truly enjoyable viewing experience.
While poorly received upon its 1988 debut, Pumpkinhead has
built up a cult following in the years since its release. The movie tells of a
small rural town besieged by an ancient, gigantic monster (the titular
character), who is called into being by a father who wants to exact revenge on
the teenagers who have injured his young son in a dirt biking accident. The
film, which starred genre favorite Lance
Henriksen as the vengeful patriarch, spawned one direct to video sequel and
two made-for-television films.
Happy Birthday to Me
The Canadian production stars Little House on the
Prairie darling Melissa Sue Anderson as Ginny, the leader of an elite high
school clique whose members meet unfortunate ends. This 1981 slasher flick is
best remembered—when it's remembered at all—for the bizarre methods by which
the teens are murdered (including death
by shish kabob and death by weight lifting). These elements, in addition to
the twist ending, set it apart from the rest of the early 80’s slasher pack.
This 1984 comedy horror is about a race of humanoid
mutants (CHUDs, or Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers), who live in
the subway tunnels beneath New York City. When the government cracks down on
transients who live in the transit system, the CHUDs begin coming up onto the
streets to feed. Starring John Heard and Daniel Stern, the movie is
quintessential midnight viewing and one of the best horror films set in the Big
Apple. C.H.U.D. was so popular upon its release, it developed a cult following
and can still be seen on the El Rey
Network, which DirecTV and Dish
Network customers have access to.
Another creature feature set in the urban underground,
1980's Alligator is about a giant reptile who is killing humans in the sewer
system of Chicago. The movie is based on the urban legend about a child who
flushed a pet baby alligator down the toilet when it gets too large to live in
the house. Although the film has largely been lost to time, it was praised upon
its release for its satirical elements and even spawned a board
Falling more on the science fiction side of horror, 1985's The
Stuff is an engaging satire with plenty of comedic elements. The film focuses
on the marketing of a white substance found bubbling out of the ground as a
sweet, calorie free treat that the public begins to consume like ice cream. As
you might suspect, that's not a great idea. Soon, it's apparent that those who
eat The Stuff are transformed into mindless zombies. The cult
classic features the earliest known film appearances by both Mira Sorvino
and Patrick Dempsey.
While you won't find these films in the list of genre classics, it's worth
probing the back catalog to check out these unique
pieces of horror history. Many will appreciate their amateur acting, obvious monster props, and ridiculous storylines.
Burton and Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra...and the sparks flew on screen and off.
The Huffington Post digs back into the past to unearth some of the more vivid sex scandals involving well known actors and actresses. We're not sure that Barry Williams going on a date with his "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson deserves inclusion, but undoubtedly Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin, Ingrid Bergman and Errol Flynn do. Click here to relive some not-so-glamorous moments in show business history.
The Cinefix web site provides a lengthy analysis of the differences between Stephen King's novel "The Shining" and Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film version, which in this writer's opinion has many merits but is ultimately undermined by the miscasting of Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall. The Cinefix guys provide clips from the film and some very clever graphics in a fast-moving and cynically humorous examination of how the book and film versions depart from each other. - Lee Pfeiffer
We don't usually cover the world of stand-up comedy on Cinema Retro but this is one for the ages: a late career burst of brilliance from George Carlin that reminds us of why his legacy is safe as one of the most innovative comic minds of his time.
Hey, guys, the next time you become intimidated about asking a gorgeous woman for a date, maybe polite chitchat isn't the best strategy. Consider the case of London photographer Ray Bellisario, who had a chance encounter with Brigitte Bardot in 1968. Bellisario was ballsy enough to dispense with polite talk and simply told the legendary sex symbol to "Come with me". To his amazement, she did. Bardot managed to slip away from her handlers and headed to a local pub where Bellisario took some remarkably candid photos of her. Even better for him, she agreed to spend the evening with him in his hotel room. Bellisario refrains from giving any details pertaining to that portion of the "petite affair" but admits that after she kissed him goodbye the following morning, she was gone from his life for good. But Bellisario does have some amazing memories of this unforgettable evening in the form of his photographs which he has now finally gotten around to making public. Click here for more.
It's a debate that has been raging for decades. Did government experiments with atomic bombs in the desert of Utah contribute to the deaths of John Wayne and many other cast and crew members of the 1954 film "The Conqueror"? First some background: the film was produced by Howard Hughes before he became a legendary recluse. It was a big budget production that co-starred Wayne and Susan Hayward and was directed by actor Dick Powell. The film is largely remembered today as a rare instance of Wayne's generally sound instincts betraying him. Somehow Hughes convinced the Duke to play Genghis Khan. The result was as awful as you would imagine and the movie went down as one of the worst casting decisions in Hollywood history, with even Wayne disparaging his appearance in the movie. It may come as a surprise to readers, however, that Wayne and Hughes had the last laugh, at least at the boxoffice. Despite poor reviews, Wayne's popularity was such that "The Conqueror" became a substantial boxoffice hit. That's the end of the good news. Many years after its release, it was noted that a seemingly high proportion of people involved with the movie had died of cancer, most notably Wayne himself in 1979. Rumors began to circulate that the U.S. government's experiments with atomic blasts in the precise area where the film was shot must have contributed to these deaths. The theory was that cast and crew members became contaminated with remaining radioactive fallout. At the time the U.S. was still rather naive about nuclear radiation despite the dropping of two atom bombs on Japan in 1945. The government was exploding A-bombs above ground in desert regions. Years later, this was deemed to be unsafe under any circumstances and future tests were conducted below ground. The Guardian web site has reignited the debate over whether radiation played a part in the deaths of Wayne and his colleagues. This has been examined many times before and the results are always inconclusive. However, conspiracy theories abound, as they always do when high profile people are involved. JFK conspiracy theorists routinely cite a supposedly unnatural number of deaths within a relatively short period of time in regard to various individuals who had some connection to that infamous date in history. But sometimes coincidences do occur and can be a contributing factor. Those who knew Wayne point out that he was an avid smoker and had a lung removed in 1965. His widow Pilar once told this writer that the pressure of starring in and directing his 1960 epic "The Alamo" saw him chain smoking five packs of cigarettes a day, a factor that, in and of itself, would be the most likely contributor to his death from cancer. In any event, this will be a topic long debated. Click here to read and form your own conclusions.
Here is the original trailer from John Ford's epic 1959 Civil War film "The Horse Soldiers". It's one of Ford's most under-rated titles. Even he had bad memories of the film because of the death of a veteran stuntman who imposed upon him to allow him to do a particularly dangerous scene. Ford conceded against his better judgment and the man died. Nevertheless, it's a rousing, exciting and intelligently written story- with a great soundtrack and terrific chemistry between John Wayne and William Holden, who play adversaries even though they are in the same army.
The Huffington Post presents writer Pat Gallagher presents a tribute to her choices as the 12 most memorable sex sirens of yesteryear. From Marilyn Monroe to Raquel Welch and Ursula Andress, click here to check out the article and see if you agree.
One of the greatest achievements in John Wayne's career was his late career performance in director Mark Rydell's 1972 film "The Cowboys". The movie was a major hit for Warner Brothers but as acclaimed screenwriter Josh Olson points out in his analysis of the film on Joe Dante's "Trailers From Hell" web site, the flick never got the critical acclaim it deserved. The Vietnam War was still raging and Wayne's unapologetic support of it didn't sit well with the critical establishment.
Pressbook promotion for appearance by John Wayne at the film's opening at Radio City Music Hall.
In my humble opinion, the Duke was robbed of a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his superb performance as an aging cattleman who is so desperate to get his herd to market that he hires a group of schoolboys as drivers. Along the way, the kids and Wayne experience humor, pathos, death and any number of life lessons, including a tragic confrontation with rustlers led by Bruce Dern, who brings to life one of the great villains in screen history. The film also features a gem of a performance by Roscoe Lee Browne as Wayne's companion and cook for the cattle drive. Both Dern and Browne should have also received Oscar nominations but "The Cowboys" had the misfortune of being released in January of 1972- and had all but faded from Academy member's minds by the time the nominations were being considered a full year later. It was also the same year that "The Godfather" dominated most of the major nominations. Nevertheless, as Josh Olson points out, the film's greatness continues to resonate today. (Oh, and there is a magnificent score by John Williams, as well.) Click here to watch the original trailer with or without Josh Olson's commentary track.
In an informative article for The Daily Beast web site, writer Kevin Fallon looks back at the legacy of the legendary movie musical "The Sound of Music", which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Although the film is widely regarded as a classic today, Fallon points out that initial major press reviews indicated the film was not one of the critic's favorite things. The movie was panned as being syrupy and even absurd, with one critic stating that Captain Von Trapp's revulsion at discovering his children are wearing clothing made from curtains was treated with the same level of crisis as the Nazi annexation of Austria. About the only element of the production to win grudging respect from critics was the lively performance of Julie Andrews. Yet, the film became a boxoffice blockbuster, running for months- and in some cases, years- in the same theaters. It was probably the first major movie to prove to be invulnerable to otherwise overwhelmingly negative reviews. Today, critical consensus is quite different. Everyone would concede the film is saccharine sweet and simplifies, not only the real life story of the Von Trapps, but history itself. Nevertheless, it seems hard to believe that critics of the day were seemingly immune to the greatness of the Rodgers and Hammerstein score, if nothing else. Click here to read.
There was a time when the drive-in theater was a mainstay of American movie-going. However, the drive-ins got squeezed out of most urban area when the value of real estate skyrocketed. Suddenly it became far more attractive to lease land to a zillion dollar shopping center than to a guy who was showing double features. There are still drive-ins in the United States and they are, as is the case with all vanishing ways of life, highly cherished by retro movie lovers and nostalgia buffs. However, the demise of the drive-in theater craze wasn't entirely due to real estate values. As films became more sophisticated, so did audiences. Who wants to see the newest Star Wars or Bond flick at a venue where the screen was a football field away and the sound came through a tinny speaker inside your car? Adding to the challenge of running a successful drive-in were the new liberties available to filmmakers beginning in the mid-to-late 1960s. As major motion pictures increasingly depicted nudity, drive-in theaters became the focal point of local protests when parents complained that little Jack or little Jill could see those big bad bare bosoms- and worse- on the big screen in color when the family went for an outing. The result was a plethora of lawsuits and legal obstacles. Yet, some drive-ins continued to persevere- even those that switched to showing outright porn exclusively. In an article in the Daily Beast, writer Steve Miller looks back on the rise and fall of drive-ins and the legal challenges they faced. (There still is one drive-in operating in Texas that shows strictly porn, which gives a whole new interpretation to the old saying, "Everything is bigger in Texas!")Click here to read
"I'm a whore. All actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder."- William Holden
Cinema Retro columnist Dean Brierly has launched a blog dedicated to memorable quotes from hard-bitten movie actors of days past. The site provides rare insights and observations culled from interviews with the likes of William Holden, Robert Ryan, Barbara Stanwyck, Jan Sterling, Fred MacMurray, Lee Van Cleef and many others. Click here to check it out.